Meghalaya coal mine mishap: Mining expert visits site, suggests state government should take Coal India's help

Shillong: Mining expert and award winning rescuer Jaswant Singh Gill on Thursday visited the rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills where over a dozen labourers are trapped and suggested that the state government seek help of Coal India in the rescue operation.

Gill, who shot to fame after he successfully rescued 64 miners from a flooded quarry in West Bengal in 1989, arrived at Lumthari village in East Jaintia Hills district and expressed concern after seeing the water level at the mine and on receiving inputs about rat-hole mining practised in the state, a police officer said.

"The mining expert arrived here Thursday and took stock of the situation. He suggested to the deputy commissioner of the district to seek help from Coal India," SP of East Jaintia Hills, P Sylvester Nongtynger said.

Rescue operation underway in East Jaintia Hills district, where 17 men are trapped inside an illegal coal mine since Thursday morning. Image: Meghalaya Police (Sourced by 101Reporters.)

Rescue operation underway in East Jaintia Hills district, where 17 men are trapped inside an illegal coal mine since Thursday morning. Image: Meghalaya Police (Sourced by 101Reporters.)

Over a dozen miners were reportedly trapped on 13 December after water from nearby Lytein river gushed into the illegal coal pit. All efforts made by the district authorities to trace them have been futile over the past seven days.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said all efforts are on the rescue the victims.

"The NDRF and the district administration are doing their best... The NDRF are experts for this kind of situation and the MHA is being updated on the situation," Conrad said.

One gentleman from Punjab (referring to Gill) is also at the site, the chief minister said, adding that the former mining engineer is a rescue expert.

Meanwhile, NDRF team leader SK Singh expressed disappointment that the water level in the nearby Lytein river had risen considerably after incessant rain on Tuesday.

"Despite using two 25 hp pumps continuously, the water level in the mine has increased," Singh said.

Over 100 personnel from the NDRF, SDRF and the state police are currently camping on top of the 370 feet-deep mine.

One person, identified as Krip Chullet, has been arrested so far pertaining to the mine disaster. Chullet was allegedly involved in hiring labourers, overseeing the work and sending them down the shaft.

Disaster Management Minister Kyrmen Shylla said there were little chances for the miners to be rescued alive.

Admitting that rat-hole mines in Meghalaya are nothing less than "death traps", Shylla said a similar incident in 2012 had claimed lives of 14 miners in South Garo Hills.

"It has been a week since the miners were trapped in the pit. Only a miracle can save them," he added.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2018 23:42 PM

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